Art theft is an ancient and complicated crime. When youlook at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that involve art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. Here you can read about some of the most famous cases of art theft in the history.
The first documented case of art theft was in 1473, when two panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were stolen. While the triptych was being transported by ship from theNetherlands to Florence, the ship was attacked by pirateswho took it to the Gdansk cathedral in Poland. Nowadays, the piece is shown at the National Museum in Gdansk where it was recently moved from the Basilica of the Assumption.
The most famous story of art theft involves one of themost famous paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. In the night of August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen out of the Louver. Soon after, Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned by the police, but was released quickly.
While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy creating copies for the famous masterpiece, Mona Lisa was stillhidden at Peruggias apartment. After two years in which Peruggia did not hear from Chaudron, he tried to make the best out of his stolen good. Eventually, Peruggia wascaught by the police while trying to sell the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louver in 1913.
The biggest art theft in United States took place at theIsabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March18, 1990, a group of thieves wearing police uniforms broke into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was estimated at around 300 million dollars. The thieves took two paintings and one print byRembrandt, and works of Vermeer, Manet, Degas, Govaert Flinck, as well as a French and a Chinese artifact.
As of yet, none of the paintings have been found and the case is still unsolved. According to recent rumors, the FBIare investigating the possibility that the Boston Mob along with French art dealers are connected to the crime.
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most sought after painting by art thieves in history. Ithas been stolen twice and was only recently recovered. In1994, during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway,The Scream was stolen from an Oslo gallery by two thieveswho broke through an open window, set off the alarm and left a note saying: thanks for the poor security.
Three months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an offer: 1million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government turned down the offer, but the Norwegian police collaborated with the British Police and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that brought back the painting to where it belongs.
Ten years later, The Scream was stolen again from the Munch Museum. This time, the robbers used a gun and took another of Munchs painting with them. While Museum officials waiting for the thieves to requestransom money, rumors claimed that both paintings were burned to conceal evidence. Eventually, the Norwegian police discovered the two paintings on August 31, 2006but the facts on how they were recovered are not known yet.
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